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Kansas labor secretary urges unemployment extension

Saying more than 3,000 Kansans will exhaust their unemployment benefits in the next two months, state Labor Secretary James Garner called on Congress to extend benefits for displaced workers.

Garner joined nine other state labor chiefs at Niagara Falls, N.Y., to press the Senate to follow the House in passing a benefits extension bill.

The House version would allow unemployed workers who exhaust their benefits to get an additional 13 weeks of payments, if they live in a state with an unemployment rate of 8.5 percent or more.

Kansas unemployment is at 7.1 percent, not high enough for workers here to qualify under the House measure.

Garner called on the Senate to drop the benefit-limiting provision when it takes up its version of the bill.

"Action taken by the House this week is a step in the right direction, but I would urge the Senate to consider expanding benefits in states that have not yet reached the 8.5 percent unemployment threshold," Garner said.